- Government unveiled the Agnipath scheme on June 14
- Move has drawn the ire of defence job aspirants
- At least three trains were set on fire in Bihar as protests turned violent
Agnipath scheme: The government of India unveiled the Agnipath scheme on Tuesday -- calling it a transformative scheme-- for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis, in a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to bring in fitter and younger troops to deal with future security challenges facing the nation.
Protests against govt move
The move has drawn the ire of defence job aspirants, who have taken to the streets in a number of places across the country, especially in Bihar. At least three trains were set on fire in Bihar as protests against the Centre's Agnipath recruitment scheme turned violent in the Chhapra, Gopalganj and Kaimur districts on Thursday. Agitations have spilled over to several districts as youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks and blocking roads, demanding the scrapping of the scheme. Protesters went on a rampage, damaging and vandalising public properties at Birla Nagar railway station in Gwalior. Protesters broke the windows of some trains, set things on fire, burnt tyres and raised slogans against the Centre's new recruitment policy. Train movement was affected in North Central Railway's Jhansi division.
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Why people are protesting?
India ranks low on social security schemes, unlike western nations where a similar model (Agnipath scheme) is followed. Under the newly-launched scheme in India, jawans will be recruited into the army, the navy and the air force for a four-year period. However, post that there will be compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. Only 25 per cent of soldiers will be enrolled in the regular cadre. This is the major concern of the agitators. The Opposition said it's criminal to call upon our youth to be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice without the minimum protection of job security.
Agniveers to be given preference in jobs
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath assured that youth who complete their four years' service under the central government's short-term recruitment programme ‘Agnipath’ will be given priority for jobs in state police and allied forces.
What's the govt intention behind the move?
The Centre has brought in the scheme apparently to cut the ballooning salary and pension bills and carve out a youthful profile of the armed forces. Under the scheme, around 46,000 soldiers between the ages of 17 and a half years and 21 years will be recruited this year into the three services. The Indian Army will recruit 25,000 Agniveers in the next 180 days and the process for recruitment of the remaining 15,000 will begin a month after that. Recruitment drive will be in all the 773 districts throughout the country. The recruitment will be based on an "all India, all-class" basis that is set to change the composition of several regiments that recruit youths from specific regions as well as castes such as Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs.